2019 European elections: A party-by-party UK guide" width="976" height="549">
The Conservatives are not turning their backs on the elections despite their reluctance to take part
UK elections to the European Parliament are fast approaching, and the candidates contesting the elections have now been confirmed in each of the 12 electoral regions.Seats in England, Scotland and Wales are awarded to parties according to their share of the vote, to candidates on lists drawn up by the parties. Northern Ireland elects MEPs using a single transferable vote system, with voters able to rank candidates in order of preference.
How do European elections workWhat the European Parliament has been up to
European elections: What you need to know
In 2014, 31 parties put up candidates for election, with 10 winning seats. Here is what we know so far about how the main parties are preparing for the 23 May polls.
Change UK - The Independent Group
This will be the first electoral test for the breakaway group of anti-Brexit Labour and Conservative MPs, who clubbed together to form The Independent Group in February.
Newly rebranded as Change UK, the party received 3,700 applications from people who wanted to represent it in the elections. It has whittled this down to 70 - although two candidates have already stood down over offensive social media posts in the past.Their list contains a few eye-catching names, including ex-BBC broadcaster and novelist Gavin Esler, former deputy Polish prime minister Jan Vincent-Rostowski and journalist Rachel Johnson, sister of Tory MPs Boris and Jo, who is seeking to follow in the footsteps of her father Stanley by being elected to the European Parliament. Change UK, which has also attracted support from a number of former Tory MPs and MEPs, wants to be the number one choice for those unhappy with Brexit.The party, which has rejected calls to co-operate directly with other pro-EU parties, has issued a statement of values and principles but has yet to set out any detailed policies.Where does it stand on Brexit?
The party says it will push for any Brexit deal negotiated by the government to be voted on at a referendum, or "People's Vote", in which it would campaign for the UK to remain in the EU.It says there is "no Brexit deal" possible which is better for the UK than remaining a member. The party has pledged that its elected MEPs in the European Parliament would refuse to ratify any Brexit deal that had not been "approved" by the public. A full list of Change UK's MEP candidates can be found here. Change UK has launched its manifesto and you can read it here.
These are the elections the Conservatives thought would never happen and the party has been reluctantly mobilising itself to take part in the polls. Theresa May had been clinging to the hope that Parliament would approve a Brexit deal by 22 May to avoid having to do so, but it has now been confirmed that voting will take place in the UK.Among the Conservatives' list of candidates are a number of existing MEPs, including Ashley Fox, Daniel Hannan and Sajjad Karim.At this stage, it isn't clear how much effort will go into the campaign or if there will even be a manifesto to speak of. Some Conservative activists have said they will not campaign, in protest at the PM's failure to deliver Brexit on time, or will even vote for other parties.It has also been reported that the party's chief executive, Sir Mick Davis, is having to dip into his own pockets in order to fund some activities because of the indifference of party donors.Where does it stand on Brexit?
Tory ministers have been holding talks with Labour to try to find a majority in Parliament for a Brexit deal to take the UK out of the EU before MEPs are due to take their seats in July. Talks began after Theresa May's Brexit deal was rejected three times by MPs.The government says a Brexit deal should not be subject to a referendum, arguing that it remains focused on implementing the decision to leave made in 2016. The party hasn't published a manifesto but the party's official campaign leaflet argues the Conservatives are the "only party which can get Brexit done".The BBC has contacted the Conservative Party for a list of its candidates in the upcoming elections and will link to it here when it becomes available.When the Conservative Party's manifesto becomes available, we will link to it here.
Green Party of England and Wales
The Green Party made its electoral breakthrough in the 1999 European elections and insists it is the best-represented and "most credible" of the pro-Remain parties.Molly Scott Cato is the only one of its three current MEPs who is standing again. Among the other 63 candidates on its list is the Lancashire councillor Gina Dowding, a leading anti-fracking campaigner, and Cleo Lake, who is Lord Mayor of Bristol.Where does it stand on Brexit?
In its manifesto, the party says it supports holding another referendum on Brexit, at which it would campaign to remain in the EU. It says opting not to leave the EU can be the start of the "genuine social and economic transformation this country needs". A full list of the Green Party's MEP candidates can be found here. The Green Party has launched its manifesto and you can read it here.The candidates for the Scottish Greens can be found here.The Scottish Greens have launched their manifesto and you can read it here.
Jeremy Corbyn has said he is confident the party will do well in the elections.The party has selected 70 candidates across the 12 regions. They include the former cabinet minister and passionate Brexit critic Andrew Adonis, who is second on the South West England list.Other stand-out names include Laura Parker, a leading figure in the Momentum campaign group, and Eloise Todd, chief executive of the Best for Britain group.Where does it stand on Brexit?
Labour says it accepts the result of the 2016 referendum but opposes the PM's Brexit deal, arguing it would be bad for the economy and workers' rights.Instead, the party wants the UK to remain in a permanent customs union with the EU and closely aligned to its single market rules. They say if they cannot achieve a deal with the Tories it can endorse, it wants to force a general election to take the Conservatives out of office.Failing that, the party's manifesto says "Labour backs the option of a public vote" on the PM's deal.The issue of a further referendum has proved divisive in the party - with many MPs and frontbenchers opposed to the idea - and the campaign is likely to highlight these divisions.Deputy leader Tom Watson has said the party cannot "sit on the fence" on the issue if it wants to counter the electoral threat of Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party.A full list of Labour's MEP candidates can be found here. Labour has launched its manifesto and you can read it here.
Liberal Democrats
The party, which has selected 70 candidates, will be hoping to do better than in 2014, when it only got enough votes to send one representative to Brussels.Catherine Bearder is standing again, while former Lib Dem MPs Martin Horwood and Stephen Williams are also on the list for the South West England region.Where does it stand on Brexit?
The party wants to hold a further referendum on Brexit, at which it would campaign for the UK to remain a member of the EU. "Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to stop Brexit," their manifesto says. A full list of the Liberal Democrats' MEP candidates can be found here.The Liberal Democrats have launched their manifesto and you can read it here.
Northern Ireland parties
The Democratic Unionists (DUP) and Sinn Fein claimed more than 45% of the vote in the 2014 poll and are expected to dominate the elections again. The SDLP and the Alliance Party leaders, Colum Eastwood and Naomi Long, are both standing while former Ulster Unionist (UUP) minister Danny Kennedy is standing, after the party's MEP Jim Nicholson decided to step down. Where do they stand on Brexit?The DUP and the UUP want the Brexit referendum result delivered, but oppose the backstop plan for the Irish border included in the current UK-EU deal. Sinn Fein wants the whole island of Ireland to remain in the EU, and for Northern Ireland to be given special status.The SDLP opposes Brexit and has called on Theresa May to stop the process by voting to revoke divorce talks under Article 50. Alliance supports holding another Brexit referendum, at which it would campaign for Remain. It says there should be special arrangements for Northern Ireland if Brexit does occur. You can find out more about the Northern Ireland MEP candidates here. When the parties have launched their manifestos, we will link to them here.
Plaid Cymru
The Welsh party has named its four candidates for the election - current MEP Jill Evans, Carmen Smith, Patrick McGuinness and Ioan Bellin.Where does it stand on Brexit?
The party backs Wales remaining in the EU and would give people the option of choosing between this and any Brexit deal, in what it calls a "final say" referendum. Plaid also says it would make the case for Wales to have its "own voice in Europe as a member in our own right".A full list of Plaid Cymru's MEP candidates can be found here. Plaid Cymru has launched its manifesto and you can read it here.
Party members were asked to rank the SNP's prospective six candidates - Alyn Smith, Aileen McLeod, Margaret Ferrier, Christian Allard, Heather Anderson and Alex Kerr - in order of preference.Mr Smith, who has been an MEP since 2004, came top while Mr Allard, a French-born former fisheries executive who has been an MSP since 2013, came second.The SNP is hopeful of winning three seats with its anti-Brexit message, but it is unlikely Mr Kerr, a 24-year old student touted as a "champion of young people", will make it to Brussels this time as he was ranked sixth. Where does it stand on Brexit?
The party has proposed a compromise Norway-style option of the UK staying in the EU's single market, but it has been unable to win a majority for that in the Commons. It now supports another referendum which, it says, should include the option of Remain.
Brexit: What is the Norway model?
You can find out more on the SNP MEP candidates here. When the SNP's manifesto becomes available, we will link to it here.
The Brexit Party
Just weeks ago, Nigel Farage was describing his new political project as a "virtual" entity. Now it is favourite with bookmakers and many political commentators to win the most seats in the polls.The Brexit Party has promised to field a diverse slate of candidates across Britain. The former UKIP leader is standing in South East England, while other high-profile names include the businessman Richard Tice, former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe, the broadcaster Claire Fox and journalist Annunziata Rees-Mogg, a former Tory election candidate and sister of Jacob Rees-Mogg.Launching the party last month, Mr Farage controversially vowed to "put the fear of god" into MPs who he accused of obstructing Brexit and betraying the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the EU.Where does it stand on Brexit?
The party says it will work to stop any "dodgy deal" between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, and "will push for Brexit on World Trade Organisation terms" without any withdrawal agreement with the EU.
Brexit: What is the 'no deal' WTO option?
The Brexit party wants any MEPs it gets elected to take part in Brexit negotiations, and says it will not pay the ?39bn financial settlement that the government has agreed to pay to the EU to settle existing debts and future obligations. Mr Farage, who led UKIP to victory in 2014's European elections, has said he hopes to kill off the idea of another Brexit referendum by topping the polls once again.He is expected to focus on a single message that the UK must leave straight away. Detailed policies will be left until after the elections, he has signalled. A full list of the Brexit Party's MEP candidates can be found here.Mr Farage has said his party is not planning on publishing a manifesto, but it has released a pledge card.
UK Independence Party
The polls will be a real test for Gerard Batten's party, which triumphed in 2014 but has been on a downward spiral ever since.The party has selected 70 candidates across the 12 regions, including Northern Ireland.Only three of the 24 MEPs elected five years ago - Stuart Agnew, Mike Hookem and Mr Batten himself - are on the list, following an exodus of senior figures in the party.The selection of Carl Benjamin - second on the South West list - has caused controversy. He has refused to apologise for remarks in 2016 in which he said he would "not even rape" the Labour MP Jess Phillips.UKIP, which nearly went bankrupt last year, says it has raised ?500,000 to pay for a pro-Brexit leaflet to be sent to all 27 million UK households.Where does it stand on Brexit?
UKIP's brief manifesto says the party stands for "Brexit, and an independent democratic Britain governed under its own laws and by its own parliament and government."UKIP argues that Brexit is being betrayed and Theresa May's withdrawal agreement means "leaving the EU in name only".It says it would reject Article 50, "stop asking the European Union how we can leave, and start telling them how we will leave."A full list of UKIP's MEP candidates can be found here. UKIP has launched its manifesto and it can be read here.
The UK’s European elections 2019
Conservative Party
Liberal Democrats
Change UK
SNP (Scottish National Party)
Labour Party
Green Party (England and Wales)
UKIP (UK Independence Party)
Brexit Party
See also:
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